Alex Brandon, AP Photo

Poll: Majority of Utahns say it's time for someone else to be president other than Trump

By Lisa Riley Roche, KSL | Posted - Aug 4th, 2019 @ 4:01pm



SALT LAKE CITY — A majority of Utahns believe one term in the White House is enough for President Donald Trump, according to a new poll for the Salt Lake Chamber.

Just 45% of the likely voters polled said Trump should be reelected in 2020, while 52% said it's time to give someone new a chance to serve as president and 4% weren't sure how they feel about a second term for the Republican chief executive.

At the same time, Utahns are split over their impression of the president, with 48% saying they view Trump favorably and 49% not favorably. Only 2% had no opinion and no one told pollsters they hadn't heard of him.

"It's fairly surprising when you see an incumbent Republican getting these kind of poll results in a place like Utah," University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said.

But then again, the incumbent is a president who won Utah in 2016 with just 45.5% of the vote, his lowest margin of victory in any of the states he captured. Utah has voted for a Republican for president since 1964.

"It's been clear all along that Utah Republican voters in general have not been that keen on Donald Trump," Burbank said, citing the president's often abrasive personal style, manifested in a stream of tweets and off-the-cuff comments.

Even among Republicans polled, 28% were ready to see someone else in the White House, compared to 96% of Democrats, 68% of unaffiliated voters and 42% who had another political affiliation.

Burbank said those numbers are telling. Voters typically give an incumbent in their own party more support, he said, while unaffiliated voters would be expected to be more evenly divided over keeping a candidate in office.

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Younger voters aged 18 to 24 were the least supportive of Trump's reelection, with just 36% saying he should have another term. The only age group of voters where more wanted the president to stay in office than be replaced was 65 and older.

That's less unusual, Burbank said, noting that in the rest of the country, the president's base of support "tends to be among older white Republicans or independents, and younger people are not nearly as enthusiastic."

The chamber's quarterly "Utah Outlook — Taking the pulse of our community" poll released Wednesday was conducted June 11-July 1 by Dan Jones & Associates of 801 Utahns and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Derek Miller, the chamber's president and CEO, said what the results are "essentially saying is we have a divided state as it relates to Donald Trump. We have a divided country as it relates to Donald Trump. And there's just not much in the middle."

Miller said the business community is pleased with the economy under Trump, with the exception of international trade, where additional tariffs on China are looming on top of ongoing issues with access to foreign markets.

"By and large, the economy is strong, and business appreciates that," Miller said. "But I hear business leaders say all the time, 'Can somebody just take away his Twitter account? We like what he's doing on the business front but couldn't we do it without all the editorial comment?'"

Wayne Holland, a former Utah Democratic Party chairman who's heading up former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign in Utah, said it's not surprising to see some in the business community who are "very cool" to Trump.

"They are a group who understand and depend on stability and the current president is undoubtedly the most erratic president we have ever seen," Holland said, including when it comes to global leadership.

Trump's "pettiness is below the office and what we try to portray to the rest of the world," he said. "The business folks I talk with simply don't like the man and they feel his behaviors are embarrassing."

All that helps Biden in Utah, Holland said, although he stopped short of suggesting the front-runner in a crowded Democratic presidential field could win the state in 2020.

"I think it will be a close and interesting race," he said. "If we get the turnout we are hoping for, it just might be an earth shaker."

Miller, a Republican who served as GOP Gov. Gary Herbert's chief of staff and considered a run for U.S. Senate, doesn't see that happening.

"Utah is still a strong Republican state," Miller said. "Whereas right now, you've got 52% of the state saying time to give someone else a chance as it relates to President Trump, I think it's be fair to say those numbers will shift once we have a Democratic candidate."

Burbank also said Trump may not have much to worry about when it comes to Utah.

"These numbers, in all honesty, even though they indicate weakness for Trump as a candidate, are not a serious concern at this stage," he said, because despite the lack of enthusiasm, he's still the Republican choice in a Republican-dominated state.

"When it comes down to, do you vote for Donald Trump or do you vote for whoever the Democrats come up with, then I think you'll begin to see people say, 'Oh, well, I'm going with Trump because I dislike the Democrats so much.'"

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